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Why timing is everything and how to get it right

We have all heard of the power of why. Especially the talks by Simon Sinek, which have gone absolutely viral. But what about the power of when?

There is no doubt that we should all start at why. Why sparks the motivation for change and defines your identity, which is critical for behavioural change. But in my opinion, if you do not get the when right, the why along with your motivation will disappear behind a sea of inevitable setbacks, energy dips, failures, rejections, hurts and disappointments.

Timing is everything.

If you get your timing wrong, you are more likely to fail or get rejected; whether it is the time of day you eat, wake, sleep, exercise, work, and even initiate sex with your partner. Timing is critical. You may think you are not good at something, when in fact you just did it at the wrong time of day that is not aligned with your optimal chrono-type.

Munich University pioneered the research into discovering your chrono-type with a simple quiz. The research shows that 30 per cent of people are “morning” types, 30 per cent are “night owls” and 40 per cent are in-between. Unless you are a musician, modern work schedules all favour the morning types. But that does not mean you cannot control your own personal schedule to optimise your performance. In fact, I know some people who have gone into business for themselves purely so they can be in control of when they eat, sleep and work. Others have asked their boss if they can work different hours that favour their chrono-type. If you don’t have the privilege of either, don’t despair. In a future article, we will step you through the process of becoming a morning person.

Which one are you? We are all different. At the recent Upgrade Your Life event, we learned from Alessandra Edwards the four different genetic types ranging from morning stars to rock stars. We also learned from Mark Bunn the three different ayurvedic body types.

How do you get your timing right?

Using the Higher Branch framework, consider how you can get your timing right for the following eight areas of life.

Health

There are three branches to your physical health. Nutrition, sleep and movement (exercise). Sleep is by far the most important factor for your cognitive performance, emotional happiness, immunity and longevity.

If you are a night owl, trying to go to bed early may cause you to slip into self-induced insomnia as you lie awake trying to get to sleep when you are simply not ready. You start associating your bed with insomnia, and it’s a spiral into anxiety from there that causes more insomnia. If your optimal time is to go to bed at 11pm and wake at 7am, then stick to that and be true to your chrono-type. If you prefer to sleep at 9pm and wake at 5am, then go with that.

When it comes to eating, typically morning people can’t survive without breakfast, while night owls prefer to snack at night and fast till midday the next day.

Some can have one or two meals per day, others are primed for grazing throughout the day. For some, exercise first thing boosts their energy level; for others, midday or late afternoon is the best time.

Don’t try and be something you are not. You need to listen to your body. And if you cannot figure out what your body is telling you, then maybe it is time to have an ayurvedic consultation or a genetic consultation with a peak performance coach. We recommend Mark Bunn, Alessandra Edwards and Anthia Koullouros.

Love and Intimacy

Couples can sometimes think they have relationship “problems” simply because they have their timing all wrong. For example, if you try to initiate sex with your partner at night and they are a morning person, then you are setting yourself up for rejection. So, it is important to get your timing right. How do you do that? Start with sleep. In a previous article, The Sex/Sleep Connection, I talked about how important sleep is to a relationship.

Family

If you are a morning person, then the best time to spend with your children is in the morning. Driving them to school is a great way to do that. Otherwise, I know some parents who wake early and go jogging or swimming with their children. If they are too young, then a playground is an awesome way to start the day. If you are night person, then flip that around and do those things later in the day. Pick them up from school. Read to them at night. Play board games. Please don’t watch TV at night with your children. You will mess up their sleep and yours whether you are a morning person or a night person.

Work

If you are a morning person, you need to do your most important work in the first 90 minutes after you start work. Why only 90 minutes? Research shows that after 90 minutes, your attention span and focus deteriorate, and you need a 15-minute break outside in sunlight to reset. Why the first 90 minutes? For a morning person, the first 90 minutes at work is the most productive. This should never be spent checking email! Or in meetings, unless the meeting is for brainstorming or decision-making. The converse is true for a night person. You need to ease into the day and do your best work later in the day when your brain comes alive.

Friendships

Socialising is a critical element to our wellbeing. In fact, all the research shows that the longest living humans in the blue zones of the world all have very strong social networks that keeps them happy and mentally sharp. Friendships help us have fun and bring laughter to our life. But, only when you socialise at the right time. If you are a night person, then going out at night to the footy or the restaurant or a bar brings the best out of you. You will be a lot more fun and energetic.

If you are a morning person, then perhaps you should avoid going out at night and choose a morning cycle and coffee or a long lunch on weekends. Timing can be the difference between being perceived as fun or boring.

Learning

At A Higher Branch, we consider learning to be an essential element for growth. Our whole mission is built around sharing knowledge with our community to help. You grow and progress in all areas of your life. Learning is not just about attending seminars about your subject-matter expertise, but more importantly, about your personal life. Your health, how to be a better partner, friend or parent and all the eight areas of life. And learning is no different to working. You should read, listen or watch when you are most alert. Again, this leads back to whether you identify yourself as a morning person, a night person or an in-between. The best ways to learn on the fly is during your daily commute. Some call it “Traffic University”. And by far the exponential way to learn is to attend events with other like-minded people.

Wealth

Your appetite for risk varies according to the time of day. If you are a morning person, then the worst time for you to make investment decisions is later in the day when you are more emotional and more impulsive. The converse is true for night owls. The morning is your worst time to make investment decisions.

Charity

Helping others, whether it is the new person at work or a friend who needs someone to listen to is best when you are emotionally solid. Otherwise, you are going to come across as insincere or nonchalant. It is amazing how your chrono-type can influence the way you help others. I know timing for helping others may be difficult, but if you do have the choice, always choose the time of day when you are most empathetic and patient. Listening requires both.